High Point selects new coach

Thursday, June 8, 2006

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Barbara L. Salisbury⁄the gazette
Newly named High Point basketball coach Justin Dussault talks strategy with his team on Monday.

When the High Point High School boys’ basketball team took to the floor for its Rock Summer League opener Monday afternoon, it was the start of another new phase for the Beltsville squad.

While the effort to build camaraderie and improve on both ends of the court is a given for summer league play, the Eagles began another coaching transition.

Justin Dussault has been selected to guide High Point, replacing Reggie Williams. Williams, the former NBA star who coached the Eagles the past two seasons, resigned last month to take over the fledging program at Jericho Christian Academy in Landover.

High Point Athletic Director Shirley Diggs said Dussault was officially hired Friday. The 25-year old government and history teacher at DuVal was chosen from a pool of four finalists.

‘‘He seems enthusiastic and wants to build a program,” said Diggs, who hopes to have Dussault on High Point’s faculty this fall. ‘‘We’re excited. He’s young and we’ll have a very young team, so this is a good timing.”

‘‘I thought I had a chance, which is all you can ask for,” said Dussault, a 2004 graduate of the University of North Florida. ‘‘I still can’t believe it.”

Dussault formally met with the team after the Eagles’ loss to Montgomery County’s Blake Monday afternoon. He coached DuVal for the spring and 2005 fall season, and last summer. He also guided the Robert Goddard Middle School team the past two seasons.

While the Eagles were enjoying the energy that comes when a new coach takes over, the change is not free of pitfalls.

‘‘I’ve been here three years and have had three coaches, and I’m kind of getting tired of it,” said High Point junior Joe Morgan. ‘‘But hopefully, he’ll be the right one.”

Dussault becomes the third boys’ basketball coach at High Point since Ernie Welch retired in 2000 after a successful 15-year stint. The Eagles have struggled since Dan Hewins guided them to the 4A South Region semifinals in 2001.

High Point won only three games combined in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 campaigns. Hewins resigned after the 2003-04 season, and Williams, a 10-year NBA veteran and former All-American at Georgetown University, replaced him.

High Point made some strides in Williams’ first season, winning eight games, including an upset of County 4A league stronghold Suitland in the regular season. The Eagles also won their opening-round 4A South Region playoff game.

High Point again won eight games last season. Morgan, Omar Myers, Dekunle Somade and El Worku will be the only returning letter winners this coming season. Somade said Dussault may be the right fit for a young Eagle squad.

‘‘To start off with a coach that doesn’t have a filled up resume, but one that’s just trying to make his way is good,” said Somade, a rising junior. ‘‘I think he will work with us.”

‘‘I have more freedom to run it my way,” Dussault said. ‘‘I choose the offense, defense, who plays. I know it’s going to be a challenge but I’ve never been one to run from a challenge.”

E-mail Derek Toney at dtoney@gazette.net.